After a shower, I joined the laughter downstairs of the Lachapelle family—Tara, Ryan, Pam, and Rene. Rene opened his birthday cards, and we had a good laugh over several of them. Pam was the ever thoughtful and gracious hostess that she is, and made me a couple of cups of coffee and toasted me a bagel, which I enjoyed with some cream cheese.
Today's agenda included a good old-fashioned New England Clamboil, which my cousin Roger was going to cook once he arrived. While waiting for his and our cousin Lisa's arrival, and yet another mutual cousin of ours, Michael and his family to arrive, I sliced and diced a watermelon, half of which went into a mixed fruit salad, and the other half in a bowl by itself.
Michael and his family (wife Kerri and two adorable young boys) arrived, and shortly after that, Roger and Lisa arrived and Roger started the clamboil:
While it cooked, we sat around the table enjoying appetizers and stories. Looking around the table at one point, I thought of the generation before us—some of whom are still with us and some of whom are not—and how they connected me to the fine people there. Siblings Rene, Normand, Annette, and Pauline, producing my cousins Rene Jr. and Roger, Michael, Lisa, and myself respectively. And I wondered if it would make then smile seeing this generation after them enjoying each other's company, some ethnic and regional food of our childhood, and memories of times gone by.
For the third time this weekend, looking at my cousin Lisa I got a little overwhelmed at both the sadness and the joy that she's all I have left of two people who were a source of great closeness and contentment in a formative year in my life from 1969-1970.
In retrospect, especially as I devise this blog entry, I hate, hate, hate that we didn't get a group picture of all of the cousins who were there this afternoon. I know my parents would have loved to have seen Michael Lachapelle.
Roger brought out another family tradition—moonshine—and I had a shot of three different kinds: apple pie, anise, and cinnamon. Including yesterday's Limoncello, I think I'd order them with the flavor I liked best first: Limoncello, a tie between the apple pie and the anise, and then the cinnamon.
And not that it's all about the food, but a lot of it is, here are the parts of the sum of the clam boil:
Hot Dogs, Sausage, and Chourico
Onions and Sweet Potatoes
Rolls & Portuguese Bread
Two things of note while packing:
- I took my cousin Bobby's advice from yesterday and did this:
- One of the things I found the most interesting in Ryan's room, was this artifact:
Rene, Tara, Ryan, and I all left at the same time, as Tara and Ryan were catching a train back to NYC, Rene had a 5:20 flight out to Baltimore, and my flight back to Raleigh, through Philadelphia, left at 8:35, but there were two earlier flights that I was going to try and get on to get back before midnight.
We were pretty rushed since the clamboil had gotten off to a late start, but with Rene's—let's just call it "aggressive"—driving, we dropped Tara and Ryan off at about 4:30 for their 4:40 train departure, and then we hauled it to the airport.
We parked in pre-flight parking, and Rene and I said our goodbyes as I got off the shuttle at the US Airways stop and he stayed on for the Southwest stop. Ironically, about ten minutes later, we were both entering the security line with one person between us.
I proudly flopped my plastic bag of liquids and gels on the belt, and both Rene and I got through security without incident by just a little after 5:00, and he jetted to his gate for his 5:20 flight.
At check-in the US Airways agent told me that all of the earlier flight were full, so I was resigned to just sit for a couple of hours and catch up my blog notes from the weekend.
However, when I got to the gate, I went to the agent there, and asked if it was worth getting on standby, and he said, "Sure, why not?" and then he took so long to do it that I was starting to get annoyed.
However, when he'd finished he said, "I've done three things for you:
- I've put you on standby for this 5:50 flight to Philly.
- I've put you on standby for the 8:30 flight out of Philly, because that one's full, too.
- I've booked you on our 6:10 flight out of here, which goes through DC, but you can get all the way home that way, and arrive an hour before your originally scheduled arrival time of 12:02."
To make along story short—and you know I could very well make it long—I ended up clearing standby on both flights and getting home at 10:00.
On the Providence to Philly leg, I sat next to the hottest guy. We started talking only at the end of the flight. He was a 20-year Navy veteran—for which I thanked him for his service—and he knew a lot about planes. At one point, he was describing something technical about planes with his hands up, and I was looking at his hairy, muscular forearms and all that was going on in my mind was, "Blah, blah, blah... I just want to lick you..."
Oh, and I do have to say a few things about the clusterf*ck that occurred getting on that Philly-to-Raleigh flight. OMG. The agent working there was such a mess.
She waited to call the standby people until the very last minute, at which time people were yelling at her, and she was yelling, "Just get on the plane, it's gonna leave."
There were two couples who were on standby from a flight they'd missed the previous day (and it's 8:30 at night now, mind you), so they were first on the standby list and got called.
Then she called me and another person, and as I was walking up there, there was a couple nearby yelling, "Hey! We're supposed to be #6 and #7 on the list!"
Then the agent said, "Williamson, I need you to wait. Don't board yet."
I grabbed my boarding pass as fast as I could amongst the chaos and headed down the jet way. Right when I got to my seat, one of the other people she had let on was starting to get in my seat, and I said, "Excuse me, that's my seat."
"Oh? That's yours? Okay." She didn't have a boarding pass, and I heard someone ask her about it, and she said, "She didn't give me one." I plopped my ass in that seat as fast as I could hoping there was some truth to that old adage about possession being 9/10ths of the law.
Several of the standby passengers were walking around the plane, and then that agent came on and started looking around, saying mostly to herself, "Has everyone got a seat?" You know you're disorganized if you have to come onto the plane to see if what you've created has actually panned out.
Once it was confirmed that everyone had a seat, I asked the flight attendant what I could do with my carry-on bag.
"You'll just have to find a spot for it."
I was in the front of the plane and looking back, all of the bins were closed by this time, of course, and I said to her, "So I should just open every bin and see if there's a spot?"
She gave me a look as if I were being a smart-ass, and I said, "I'm just making sure that's what I'm supposed to do, since all of the bins are closed. I'm happy to do it if that's what you want me to do."
She said, "Yes," and then as I went down the aisle opening the ones on the right side, she went down the left side. I was about three-quarters of the way down the plane with no luck on my side, when she called to me with a completely empty bin on her side, and only about halfway back.
I knew this was going to be a pain getting off the plane, but I was so glad to be on board that I was happy to deal with that at the other end.
There, I made a long story out of it anyway.
I arrived at 10:00, and I was down at Flex by 10:30, where I stayed an hour and had two drinks.
Back to the grind tomorrow, and then to see what the rest of the week brings as my mother has her hip replacement surgery tomorrow.